Aunt Tillie, Leave My Diabetes Alone!
What to say and how to say it for those difficult occasions
Every holiday season, our calendars fill up with holiday parties and family get-togethers. Unfortunately, at these celebrations, many friends and relatives seem to feel it is okay to comment freely on how you handle your diabetes. Their unsolicited words of advice and criticism are often made at the most inopportune times, such as when you enter a relative's home wearing a new outfit that shows off a recent weight loss or as you reach for a holiday treat from a tray at an office party. Here are a few ways to deal with those individuals who offer guidance you haven't asked for and really don't care to hear:
Anticipate what's coming
If your mother-in-law always comments on how much weight you've gained, expect her to say something at the next family event. Before you leave home, decide how you'd like to handle it. You can ignore her comment, thank her for mentioning it and move away, or change the subject. However you respond, the encounter will be much easier if you come prepared. You can then answer with dignity and remain in charge of your emotions.
Here are a few phrases you may find helpful:
"Thanks for the suggestion. How was your trip to Alaska?"
"Really - I'll mention that to my health care team."
"Oh, I am allowed to have this. My dietitian showed me how to include this in my meal plan."
"Your husband was never allowed to eat this? Well, diabetic meal planning has changed dramatically over the past few years."
"Thank you for your concern. I'll keep it in mind."
Keep an imaginary score card
This sounds a bit silly, but it can help take the sting out of hurtful comments. The goal is to turn insulting comments into a game that you play throughout the evening. Create a list of difficult comments you expect to hear from the folks who may be there. When anyone says something from your list, give yourself a point. To add to the fun, enlist the support of a friend. When the comments start flying, report them to your friend and share a prize if you check off everything on your list.
Call the host ahead of time
Awkward situations frequently develop as a meal is served, so plan ahead. Contact the host of the party and review the menu. If nothing meets your diabetes needs, either eat before you attend or bring a diabetes-friendly entre that everyone can enjoy.
Host the party
When the event is at your home, you control the evening. You can plan the menu to suit your health needs and introduce others to your preferred way of eating. If they are willing, suggest that your guests each bring a diabetes-friendly dish to the meal. You can hand out recipes or direct them to different cookbooks. This will be a potluck meal that all can enjoy.
Have a happy and joyous holiday season!
Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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